Media Bias Fact Check: Incompetent or Dishonest?

X
APA
Agresti, J. D. (2017, April 24). Media Bias Fact Check: Incompetent or Dishonest? Retrieved from http://www.justfactsdaily.com/media-bias-fact-check-incompetent-or-dishonest/
MLA
Agresti, James D. “Media Bias Fact Check: Incompetent or Dishonest?” Just Facts. 24 April 2017. Web. 13 December 2017.<http://www.justfactsdaily.com/media-bias-fact-check-incompetent-or-dishonest/>.
Chicago (for footnotes)
James D. Agresti, “Media Bias Fact Check: Incompetent or Dishonest?” Just Facts. April 24, 2017. http://www.justfactsdaily.com/media-bias-fact-check-incompetent-or-dishonest/.
Chicago (for bibliographies)
Agresti, James D. “Media Bias Fact Check: Incompetent or Dishonest?” Just Facts. April 24, 2017. http://www.justfactsdaily.com/media-bias-fact-check-incompetent-or-dishonest/.

By James D Agresti
April 24, 2017

As Just Facts grows in prominence and reputation, an increasing number of scholars, major organizations, and eminent people have cited and recognized the quality work of Just Facts. With this higher profile, Just Facts has also been subject to deceitful attacks. A recent example of such comes from “Media Bias Fact Check,” an “independent media outlet” that claims to be “dedicated to educating the public on media bias and deceptive news practices.”

In the opening paragraph of her review of Just Facts, Media Bias Fact Check contributor Faith Locke Siewert writes:

On their article http://www.justfacts.com/racialissues.asp#affirmative, they use the Richard Sander’s (law professor at UCLA) essay “A Systematic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools.” To support much of their hypothesis, obviously against affirmative action (seeming also to support the notion of black intellectual abilities being inferior).

Those two sentences contain three demonstrable falsehoods:

  • “A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools” is not just an essay. It is a peer-reviewed journal paper that was published in the Stanford Law Review. Big difference.
  • Just Facts does not use this paper to support “much of” its research on affirmative action. The research contains more than 60 footnotes, and this paper is just one of them. Just Facts’ full research on racial issues has 498 footnotes, and this paper is two of them.
  • Just Facts does not offer any “hypothesis” in this research, much less “support the notion of black intellectual abilities being inferior.” To the contrary, the opening section of Just Facts’ research on racial issues covers the topic of science and presents multiple facts that challenge that notion.

The flagrant and simplistic nature of these bogus critiques suggests that Media Bias Fact Check is either inept and/or dishonest.

Siewert goes on to write that Just Facts is “a deceptive site because they do use facts, but not all the facts in order to mask their right Bias.” As proof of this, she cites two articles that take issue with the Stanford Law Review paper cited by Just Facts. Neither of these articles appeared in a journal, and one of them is from a publication “written and published entirely by Harvard undergraduates.” Siewert does not even attempt to prove whether the critiques have any factual or logical value.

Worse still, the lone excerpt that Siewert cited from these articles does not even take issue with the facts from Stanford Law Review paper that were presented by Just Facts. Thus, she must not understand the context in which Just Facts cited the paper, or she is lying about it.

By Siewert’s logic, if someone cites a peer-reviewed paper, and anyone argues against it, then the person who cited the paper is “deceptive” and “masking their bias” if they don’t cite the critique—regardless of whether it has any merit or relevance. This inane standard would apply to just every scholar.

Siewert finishes by writing that “a glance at their sister site justfactsdaily.com gives you their right bias right off the top from just the article headers.” That statement is rife with ignorance. Just Facts Daily is dedicated to debunking widespread untruths propagated by major media and cultural institutions, and such institutions frequently spread left-leaning falsehoods. Hence, the article headers are not evidence of bias on our part but evidence of bias on the part of the media and academia. In cases where right-leaning fictions take hold, and no one properly debunks them, Just Facts goes after them as well.

If Siewert has exercised a bare minimum of diligence to read the “About Us“ page of Just Facts Daily, she would see that it “typically covers topics that have not been accurately and thoroughly covered by other organizations. There is no need for us to duplicate quality work that is already accessible, so we generally step in when others have not addressed an issue or failed to do so honestly or competently.”

As further evidence of its untrustworthiness, Media Bias Fact Check has declared that PolitiFact “is the gold standard for political fact checking.” To the contrary, Just Facts has documented that PolitiFact has an extensive record of propagating falsehoods.

Like Doug Wellumson, an educator who teaches a course about critical and analytical thinking at Lakeland College (Wisconsin), Just Facts realizes that no one can be totally free of bias. That is why Just Facts offers its millions of readers a “Guarantee of Integrity,” which reads:

Just Facts is passionate about finding the truth and making it known, and thus, we diligently work to ensure that our research is scrupulous. If, however, you should ever find an error in our research or feel that we have missed a critical fact that alters the implications of any matter we have addressed, please contact us, and we promise to make it right.

Just Facts’ adherence to such high standards may be part of the reason why Wellumson recently wrote that “only one fact-check source, www.justfacts.com, is worth anyone’s time.”

The reality of human nature is that people tend to easily accept that which aligns with their preconceived notions but demand very high standards of proof for anything that challenges their presumptions. Just Facts supplies very high standards of proof, and as a result, people with considerable expertise in the issues addressed by Just Facts have complimented its work. This includes, for example:

  • a Ph.D. professional measurement scientist.
  • a professor of education policy.
  • a Ph.D. oceanographer.
  • a licensed actuary at one of the nation’s largest accounting firms.
  • a manager of several hydroelectric power facilities.
  • the head of corporate development for a biotech company.
  • a Ph.D. biochemist and molecular biologist.

Update (9/19/17): As documented in the emails reproduced below, Just Facts contacted Media Bias Fact Check, and Media Bias Fact Check significantly revised and improved its article about Just Facts. However, it is still far from accurate.

Update (11/3/17): Without notifying Just Facts, Media Bias Fact Check significantly revised it article about Just Facts yet again. This new version uses illogical and sophomoric arguments to criticize Just Facts’ gun control research. The fallacies in these arguments are deflated simply by reading the actual research along with this article from Just Facts. In sum, more than enough evidence is presented above and below to show that Media Bias Fact Check cannot be taken seriously.

From Just Facts president Jim Agresti to Media Bias Fact Check
4/25/2017

Dear Media Bias Fact Check,

Our institute has found materially misleading assertions in your review of our organization, Just Facts. We have published an article that addresses these falsehoods, and I am writing to make you aware in case you would like to respond or issue a correction: http://www.justfactsdaily.com/media-bias-fact-check-incompetent-or-dishonest/

If you prefer Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/justrealfacts/posts/10154466151019212

From Media Bias Fact Check president Dave Van Zandt to Just Facts president Jim Agresti
4/25/2017

Good Morning James,

I wish you had contacted us before writing this article. When there is a dispute on a rating we always have another researcher perform a second or even a third review. We also will always consider the evidence you present in performing these reviews.

We will re-review your website as soon as possible and if changes are warranted we will make them. While this review process is occurring we will hide your page until complete. I would appreciate you doing the same with your article. If we do not see changes then by all means bring the article back as a refutation. I will send the completed review to you here.

If you are ok with this agreement we will proceed.

From Just Facts president Jim Agresti to Media Bias Fact Check president Dave Van Zandt
4/25/2017

Dave,

Thank you for your timely reply.

I’m sorry, but we will not take the article down. Of course, if it contains errors, we will correct them. If you change your article, we will place a note at the end of our article documenting the change.

If you had contacted us before posting your review, this could have been avoided. Most importantly, before any of us posts anything, we should get the facts straight.

From Media Bias Fact Check president Dave Van Zandt to Just Facts president Jim Agresti
4/25/2017

Fair enough. I have a thought. It seems in looking that JustFacts.com is pretty straightforward and well researched. However, Justfactsdaily.com seems to be more opinion based using the research from Justfacts. It seems there should be two separate reviews. One for justfacts that appears to be low bias and presents all sides and the other for Justfactsdaily. We are going to separate the two. I’ll let you know when they are done.

From Media Bias Fact Check president Dave Van Zandt to Just Facts president Jim Agresti
4/29/17

Good Morning James,

Sorry for the delay in getting the Just Facts site re-reviewed. I am sure you can appreciate how busy we are. First, I want to apologize for the previous review. The reviewer clearly zeroed in on one issue and did not look at the big picture. I feel in my review I did do that. I removed that review and replaced it with mine. I also have another reviewer working on your website. In our communication we are on the same page. I will add his notes when he completes them. Here is the new review:

https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/just-facts/

I also reviewed Just Facts Daily, which you can view here.

https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/just-facts-daily/

I would appreciate it if you would address the fact that we did re-review your website and made appropriate changes. I don’t expect you to remove your article, but I would greatly appreciate you changing the headline to something less inflammatory.

Sincerely,

Dave

From Just Facts president Jim Agresti to Media Bias Fact Check president Dave Van Zandt
5/2/2017

Dave,

Apologies for the delayed response. I appreciate the changes and think the content is now much closer to reality. However, I still take issue with a few matters.

I plan to reply in more detail tomorrow, but for some simple starters:

1) I think it is fair for you to adopt the standard that fact checkers “should be using neutral language.” And I agree that we use that we use strong language in describing falsehoods. Yet, your review of PolitiFact does not fault it for employing headlines like “Pants on Fire” (with an animated graphic showing flames) or “Voodoo magic” for an article about tax cuts paying for themselves. Likewise, your review of FactCheck.org does not criticize it for using such rhetoric, even though its two most recent headlines say that Trump:

  • “left a trail of false, misleading and sometimes puzzling statements in his wake.”
  • is “the candidate we dubbed the ‘King of Whoppers’ in 2015,” and “has held true to form as president.”

2) As I mentioned in my article criticizing Media Bias Fact Check, Just Facts Daily “typically covers topics that have not been accurately and thoroughly covered by other organizations.” This is why we mostly critique claims from the left. However, in cases where right-leaning fictions take hold, and no one properly debunks them, we go after them with equal vigor. For example: “Those are quintessential cases of liberals talking out of both sides of their mouths, and conservatives are just as guilty.”

3) “The word “catastrophically” was not used as a “loaded emotional word” in our headline. The context shows that this word was quoted from Bill Nye and was the subject off our fact check.

From Just Facts president Jim Agresti to Media Bias Fact Check president Dave Van Zandt
5/5/2017

Hi Dave,

Sorry for the delay again.

I have hard time understanding how you square this statement you made with the facts below: “Clinton and Obama cite the SOFA agreement as the reason for our troop withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. This is true and not a brazen lie.”

In October 2011, the New York Times reported:

  • “there was an understanding … that a sizable American force would stay in Iraq beyond that date.”
  • the troops did not stay, because the Obama administration “pressed the Iraqi leadership” to take a “controversial” public stand on immunity for troops “that ended any possibility of keeping American troops here past December.”

On the same day, Foreign Policy reported:

  • Obama “administration sources and Hill staffers also” said “that the demand that the troop immunity go through the [Iraqi] Council of Representatives was a decision made by the State Department lawyers and there were other options available to the administration, such as putting the remaining troops on the embassy’s diplomatic rolls, which would automatically give them immunity.”
  • “ ‘The White House has always seen the president’s pledge to get all troops out of Iraq as a core commitment, period,’ the White House official said.”

The facts are clear that the SOFA agreement was not the reason that the troops left Iraq. Beyond this, Obama took credit for pulling the troops out of Iraq on multiple occasions until ISIS took over. Then he said: “What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision.” How is that not a brazen lie?

This statement is also at odds with the facts beneath it: “In 2011, at the time of the troop withdrawal, ISIS was not considered a threat and it could not be predicted that they would increase in size and strength in such a short period of time. Essentially, the entire article is an attempt to blame the Obama administration for something that was unforeseen at the time.”

The issue here is not whether ISIS in particular would take over, but if any radical element would do so, and the facts were clear at the time that this was distinct possibility:

  • In August 2010, Babakir Zebari, Iraq’s top army officer, stated: “At this point, the withdrawal is going well, because they are still here. But the problem will start after 2011 – the politicians must find other ways to fill the void after 2011. If I were asked about the withdrawal, I would say to politicians: the US army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020.”
  • In October 2011, the New York Times reported that “the arguments of two White House officials, Thomas E. Donilon, the national security adviser, and his deputy, Denis McDonough, prevailed over those” of “military officials, who “said they wanted a ‘residual; force of as many as tens of thousands of American troops to remain in Iraq past 2011 as an insurance policy against any violence.”
  • In October 2011, Foreign Policy reported that the troop pullout “represented the triumph of politics over the reality of Iraq’s fragile security’s requiring some troops to stay, a fact everyone had assumed would prevail.”

How can you say that this “was unforeseen at the time”?

I also take issue with the whole notion of a “Christian political bias.” Although evangelical Christians tend to be conservative, I know quite a few who are not. To me, a true “Christian political bias” is simply a “bias” to being uncompromisingly honest. Regrettably, such honesty is so rare that it is often treated as a bias.

18 thoughts on “Media Bias Fact Check: Incompetent or Dishonest?

  1. First, I must admit still watching to validate you. I am like many, gunshy of the fact checkers, having been burned. I like your site so far and pray for your integrity, wherever the “Truth” leads.
    Relativism has become the bane of truth and facts in our age. Keep up the good fight.

    • Hello Mike, I have been using Just Facts for a long time! In fact this is the only “website” my college professors allowed us to cite in our papers. I have never been let down! I hope this helps! Have a wonderful day!

  2. I consider myself to be reasonable well versed in several scientific areas and have never had reason to question any conclusion put forward by Just Facts. Nevertheless, being somewhat skeptical by nature, I occasionally do a bit of research, mainly on the web, and have yet to find any fault whatsoever.

  3. Just Facts is really good, but it’s departure from its mission statement in the introduction to the Racial Issues segment is disappointing. By mentioning its opinions on the topic instead of letting the facts speak for themselves (wherever they may lead), it left me with the impression that Just Facts is afraid of being labeled “racist.”

    • It’s difficult to fault anyone for being overly careful when writing on racial issues. When you see what happens to some of our best and most fearless academics, i.e., Charles Murray, it’s understandable how other fact-based reporters might play to the side caution on this volatile topic.

  4. Your site is the most trusted, factual, and well sourced site on the internet. I often refer others to your site and have cited your works in many of my articles. When threatened by true facts, the less and often far less credible media outlets resort to incredulous fictional claims in a vain attempt to discredit the truly honest. Keep doing what you’re doing, because the world needs you. Honest facts have a solid foundation whereas those attacking will shift as sand in fast waters.

  5. I promote Just Facts in newspaper letters to the editor, my friend’s and acquaintances every chance I get. I also contribute to Just Facts. It is no wonder that J. F. has been and will be attacked by truth haters of all stripes. There are many Alinskyite organizations out there! Keep up the excellent work.

  6. This is my GO TO site for actual facts! I cite it ALL the time in my current writing (I first learned of Just Facts in college). There have been “facts” that I may not like or seem to the left, but they are facts! You can’t argue (or shouldn’t) facts! I find this site to be incredibly unbiased which is very refreshing. And sometimes if we do not like the facts reported then we need to try to work to change them (such as with racism or other facts that we can do something about in the future) not claim racism, or right wing bias! This just makes me sad! I have referred many people to this site and some will still argue their WITHOUT reading what I have sent because thats just not what they believe or want to believe. All we can do is continue to spread TRUTH! Thank you Just Facts for having integrity when so many “fact checking” websites and journalist today seem to have forgotten integrity.

    • I did go in and read the updated review, and I, like many of Just Fact’s readers appericate the corrections as it is important that the readers get the truth.
      I do have a concern, You mention Mr. Agresti and his book Rational Conculusions, and I had to wonder what that had to do with the Just Facts Daily site? So I went and watched the trailer and unlike the updated reviews mentions I am familiar with both Just Fact and Just Fact Daily (as I have been using the site since my college days), and I still didn’t understand.
      I find it very sad that after a great review Mr. Agresti’s “Christian Political Bias” was tied in to his book and again was tied in to make it sound like the Just Facts Daily site “leaned” more to the Right. This is false. If you read the articles on the Just Facts Daily site, they line up with the Just Facts site, not with Mr. Agresti’s book or with Mr. Agresti’s “Christian Political Bias”, this was a cheap shot, and is identity politics at it worst. There was no mention of Mr. Agresti other achievements, nor of Mr. Cordone. Why? Because none of those would have fit the “right wing bias”.
      If anyone picked up this site you would NOT know if it was left or right, but by YOU writing this in your review that leaves a BIAS ALREADY in their mind. That’s NOT OK! Just Facts has a guarantee of integrity, not to mention the mounds of verifiable sources that come with their research!
      Now in your review you gave polifact the Gold Standard of Fact Checking, yet they get their answers from politicans, politicans often lie. Also there is often no hard research behind polifact. Sure its a fun site to follow, but liar, liar pants on fire? When did our country become so polarized and soft that we started hiding from the truth? And when did it become OK for journalists to print false facts and pass them off as facts?
      The sooner people stop using identity politics to separate each other, start telling the truth about what is really going on and what isn’t going on the sooner we can maybe get our country back.
      Again I thank you for revising most of this. It is appreciated. I do wish you would have left out the identity politics part.
      Have a nice day.

  7. Just Facts has not amended this article because I am waiting on a reply to two emails I sent to you. These emails document multiple false statements and double standards in a new review you did of Just Facts Daily. I am happy to update this article, but I would first like to see how you respond, so we don’t need to update it again.

    • Good response. It’s also notable that MediaBiasFactCheck has failed to inform its readers of its deletion and rewrite of the original assessment.

      • Deleted it? Without notice? That’s terrible.

        MBFC has discredited itself to the point where it can’t be taken seriously without major reform. Its first version of its principles for fact-checking was obviously cribbed from PolitiFact without attribution (Dave fixed that after I pointed it out). And MFBC somehow thinks that PunditFact’s ratings of network pundits means PolitiFact is rating news network reliability, which is just silly. I pointed that out, also. Dave said he’d look into it, but when I checked days later nothing had changed (maybe it’s fixed now–I don’t know).

  8. It is sad when Just Facts does not show up on a google search for fact checking sites, not even if you go as far a four pages in. I Even tried this search “fact checking sites just facts” and still Just Facts does not show up.

  9. More hypocrisy from MB/FC: Any source criticizing Islam is automatically deemed “questionable,” but they’re perfectly fine with any source criticizing Christianity, as well as doing so themselves.

  10. I used to believe MBFC was a great resource in finding out information about specific websites. After a few years of using the website however, I noticed glaring inconsistencies regarding their conclusions about websites. Popular conservative leaning websites were pushed further to the right than expected, regardless of the user votes, and usually given a “Mixed” rating for honest reporting. Popular liberal leaning websites are nearly always a couple of clicks closer to “least biased” than their conservative counterparts, and nearly always listed as “High” rating for honest reporting. Usually the ratings conflict with the “user voted” ratings. So I emailed the website, and was told that, while the user votes are taken into account, the actual rating is done by “Media Bias Fact Check staff”. Problem though, when Huffington is given a “High” rating for honest reporting, yet Fox news is labeled “Mixed”, you know there is a major problem. I’m not arguing on the validity of either outlet in terms of high or mixed reporting, but on face value, both support the same types of articles, the only real difference being that one supports a liberal view, the other conservative. But oddly, the liberal viewpoint is given much higher marks for both validity, honesty, and being least biased. If Media Bias Fact Check were to be given a rating, they would be “Left” with “Mixed” honesty. Interestingly enough, they don’t rate themselves. Not that it matters, they’d certainly put themselves squarely in the middle as “Least Biased” with “High” ratings for honesty, neither of which are even remotely true. Uproxx, Vox, Daily Beast, Newsweek, all well known for left leaning reporting, are all listed as “High” for factual reporting. Problem is, looking at a list of articles on any given day, most on these sites are rife with opinionated articles that are poorly supported, or not supported at all by any source other than the article author’s own obvious personal bias. So I MBFC again, and pointed out some glaringly opinionated unsupported articles on both Newsweek and Huffington. Surprise surprise, this time MBFC ignored my email and never responded. So at this point I’ve given up on any idea that MBFC being “unbiased”. They most certainly are very biased. The problem with a website such as theirs is that you can fall into a tunnel vision trap, where your own political beliefs push your agenda left or right, despite good intentions, and you are stuck in your own bubble of self assumed intellectual arrogance, so much so that you refuse to accept the reality of the situation even when glaringly pointed out to you.

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